inkwell.vue.44 : M. J. Rose
permalink #0 of 76: David Gans (tnf) Thu 12 Aug 99 13:45
    <scribbled by cdb Thu 12 Aug 99 17:27>
inkwell.vue.44 : M. J. Rose
permalink #1 of 76: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Thu 12 Aug 99 17:32
M. J. Rose wrote Lip Service, an erotic thriller about a bored New York
housewife who gets involved in with phone sex while doing research for a
writing job.  Unable to line up a publisher for her manuscript, Rose self-
published it and got it placed on

The book sold so well on amazon and garnered so much media attention
that Simon & Schuster signed Rose, contracting to republish Lip Service.
The reissue is being released on August 17 under the Pocket Books imprint.

Rose is a former ad writer.  A commercial she wrote for NYPD is in the
broadcasting collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and she
has optioned several screenplays.

She will be interviewed by author Marcy Sheiner.
inkwell.vue.44 : M. J. Rose
permalink #2 of 76: Marcy Sheiner (mmarquest) Fri 13 Aug 99 10:52
Q: Most writers begin a novel with character, or plot, or some kind of
philosophical point they want to explore. How did you come to write
LIP SERVICE? Was it the character who interested you, the idea of a
wife with a secret from her husband, or the topic of phone sex as
inkwell.vue.44 : M. J. Rose
permalink #3 of 76: M. J. Rose (anewanais) Fri 13 Aug 99 14:50
The idea for Lip Service had its roots in a party I attended in New
York City. The host  was very well known with a major carreer, the
hostess was his younger, second wife who had a rather innocuous job.
The dynamic they presented at that dinner aroused my curiosity. He was
so kind, so solicitous to her, praising her, bragging to the guests
about her culinary abilities (which he took credit for teaching her)
and she was slightly embarrassed and aloof. She was not responsive to
him except in the most superficial way. I had dinner with them three or
four times and they always acted and reacted to each other in the same

I never tired of watching them, trying to figure them out. Imagining
what was going on with them.

And then about three weeks later, I was staying in the Beverly Hills
Hotel on a business trip. I was on the phone to my office when my line
got crossed with another guest's call. He was a celeb (whose voice I
recognized) and he was having phone sex. Entranced. I listened to the
whole conversation.

About a week later the couple I had been so curious about and the idea
of phone sex coalesced and the plot for LIP SERVICE was hatched.
inkwell.vue.44 : M. J. Rose
permalink #4 of 76: Marcy Sheiner (mmarquest) Fri 13 Aug 99 15:01
Very interesting. People always wonder how writers get their ideas.

We who write about sex frequently get stuck in the "sex ghetto," and
publishers & editors don't consider us for other kinds of books. How
have pubs, eds, reviewers, agents, etc., reacted to the sexual aspect
of your book? Do they think of you as a "sex writer?" Do you think of
yourself that way, and/or have any fears about being type-cast?
inkwell.vue.44 : M. J. Rose
permalink #5 of 76: M. J. Rose (anewanais) Fri 13 Aug 99 16:46
I don¹t think of myself as a "sex writer".  But since I think sex is a
big part of life, I can¹t imagine writing a story about people without
sexuality being very big part of what I write.  (Besides, writing sex
is almost as good as having it.  Sometimes better because there¹s no
one to disappoint me) 

The sexuality in LIP SERVICE hasn¹t put anyone offŠ quite the
opposite. Several editors (when my agent was showing it around before I
self-published it) said it was some of the best sex writing they¹d
ever read. The reviewers have applauded the erotic aspects of the novel
using words like titillating, steamy, and provocative.

Many of the readers who put LIP SERVICE on the map with their effusive
comments and reviews at said it was the combination of the
erotic and the plot and the quality of the writing that made the book
work for them. 

But the sex/erotic aspects did make the book something of a marketing
nightmare when my agent sent it around three years ago.  Two very
respectable publishing companies wanted to buy LIP SERVICE.  The
editors were in negotiation with my agent when both marketing depts. of
those company¹s nixed the deals because they didn¹t know how to market
the book.It was too erotic to be commercial fiction, too commercial to
be erotica. They didn't know what to do with it.

Ironically, when I decided to self publish LIP SERVICE, it¹s erotic
nature made it easier to market on the web. There were so many erotic
sites for women where I could market the book that I had a captive
inkwell.vue.44 : M. J. Rose
permalink #6 of 76: Marcy Sheiner (mmarquest) Fri 13 Aug 99 18:01
Did you self-publish in book form first, or post on the web first?
Where did you post? Tell us a little bit about what's involved in
self-publishing and how that went for you.
inkwell.vue.44 : M. J. Rose
permalink #7 of 76: M. J. Rose (anewanais) Fri 13 Aug 99 19:07
After I dealt with the nixed publishing deals, I  sat with the book
for a while. During that time, I got increasingly involved on the
Internet. In March of 1998  I came up with the idea of   test marketing
LIP SERVICE on line as an electronic download, 

and see what kind of response it generated. 

In July  of 1998, after I'd sold over 150 downloads and 50 Xeroxed
copies and had gotten great  feedback, I decided to self-publish LIP
SERVICE as a trade paperback. I thought I'd get it into independent
bookstores. But not a one was willing  to give shelf space to a
one-book publisher. That's when I then decided to just sell it and
market it online. 

I took full advantage of the free marketing and advertising available
on the web. I started with one web site, which was the Erotic Readers
Association and I went to all their links, which led me to other links,
and the process kept unfolding from there. I found over 200 sites that
would be appropriate to either review the book or run an article from
me on self-publsihing. These sites don't pay for content but they do
give generous blurbs and all offered to link to the LIP SERVICE page at 

By January of 1999 LIP SERVICE was the highest-ranking small-press
novel in amazon's history. In February of 1999, Erika Tsang an editor
at  Doubleday Book Club  found LIP SERVICE on amazon's site and by
March I'd sold it to the book club and to Simon and Schuster.

Everyone says self-published fiction doesn't sell. And no woman has
succeeded in doing it since Anais Nin. But I love a challenge. There
more everyone said it couldn't be done, the more determined I was to do
inkwell.vue.44 : M. J. Rose
permalink #8 of 76: Gail Williams (gail) Sat 14 Aug 99 10:53
How does Amazon treat self-published work and their authors?
inkwell.vue.44 : M. J. Rose
permalink #9 of 76: M. J. Rose (anewanais) Sat 14 Aug 99 15:19
It's going to sound like they paid me to say this but... if not for's advantage program I would not have had any outlet for my
novel. THe program is specifically set up to help self-publishers and
the small independent publishers. Its as easy as pie. They email orders
to you, you send them books, (usually 10 at a time) and they pay you
at the end of every  month. (Never once was check late) Plus, the
people who run this program love books and dealing with them is like
dealing with an old-fashioned independent store. On the site itself,
the way they set up the pages, the viewers can't tell the independent
or selfpublihsed books from the big publisher's books. You get a page,
customer reviews, an author's note, an interview. Everything you need.
Plus you get acess to a data base where you can check you sales on a
daily basis. 
inkwell.vue.44 : M. J. Rose
permalink #10 of 76: Marcy Sheiner (mmarquest) Sat 14 Aug 99 20:34
I bet you won't be self-publishing your next book--which, by the way,
is what? What do you see as the pros and cons of having a publisher
inkwell.vue.44 : M. J. Rose
permalink #11 of 76: M. J. Rose (anewanais) Sun 15 Aug 99 05:18
I'm laughing... no, I hope I won't be self-publishing my next book
becuase you simply can't get any distrubtion with a self-pubbed book
except on the net. And that takes so much work.

Plus you don't get reviewed by any major publication and the truth is
- that's where people still find out about books - in magazines, in
newspapers, on TV talk shows. That's where the buzz starts. However, I
don't think self-publishing is the embarressment it used to be. It is a
viable option for hard to catagorize books.

There are very few cons about having a publisher now. Pocket Books has
 done  a spectacualr pr effort and they are a joy to work with. I'm
lucky. I have a talented editor who cares about the quality of the
writing.  And they cover all the costs!

As to the next book... it's called In Fidelity. And it should be out
next summer when the paperback version of Lip Service comes out. 

If Lip Service is about a woman who finds the courage to leave her
marriage, In Fidelity is about a woman who finds the courage to stay in
her marriage. Its also erotic and suspenseful and has a female
protagonist who is easy to relate to.
inkwell.vue.44 : M. J. Rose
permalink #12 of 76: Martha Soukup (soukup) Sun 15 Aug 99 05:27
Of course, the vast majority of professionally-published books don't get pr.
The professionally-published writer who has the flair and patience for self-
promotion is at an advantage for sure.  It's good that you are getting the
pr this time--
inkwell.vue.44 : M. J. Rose
permalink #13 of 76: M. J. Rose (anewanais) Sun 15 Aug 99 14:21
I am so fully aware of the fact that no matter how good a book I ever
write, I will never do anything for the first time again... so I am
taking advantage of that to get all the press I can. And its true that
so few books gets pr... part of the problem is that there just isn't
much news value to a book - even a great book. Personally, I wish there
was a tv show and a radio show that had fiction authors on the do
readings and do Q&A's with a live audinece. It would be wonderful for
the world of fiction..
inkwell.vue.44 : M. J. Rose
permalink #14 of 76: Marcy Sheiner (mmarquest) Sun 15 Aug 99 19:26
Agree. It pisses me off that CSPAN's Book TV only covers non-fiction.

You're an example to writers of what persistence can accomplish. Is
there any particular reason or motivation for your being so relentless
about getting your book out there?
inkwell.vue.44 : M. J. Rose
permalink #15 of 76: Ron Hogan (grifter) Sun 15 Aug 99 23:32

I'm sure Brian Lamb has his reasons for everything he does with Book TV.
Too bad Doctorow's literary cable network never happened.
inkwell.vue.44 : M. J. Rose
permalink #16 of 76: M. J. Rose (anewanais) Mon 16 Aug 99 03:20
re#14- Yes there are several reasons I was so tenacious.

The first is it's just part of my personality. 

And I love writing. I have been writing one way or another for my
whole life. I could not accept that I couldn't get published. 

But there were many more components to it than that.

In 1996, when I wrote Lip Service, my agent felt very strongly about
it and was sure she could sell it. At that point she had never failed
to sell a book she had taken on. (I turned out to be  her first. Now,
three years later her record is intact again.)

She sent LS out to the top twelve publishing houses. And she got back
such great feedback. Real letters of praise for the book and my writing
style, etc. Quite a few houses started out being interested - one
thing led to another and she wound up getting two concrete offers from
two top editors.

As I said before, both of those deals fell through because of 
marketing issues. (One of the editors almost quite over Lip Service and
her marketing guy's decision not to publish it.) 

If I'd had doubts (which of course I did, I'm a writer) those two
deals convinced me that Lip Service was a good book. I was so
frustrated by the reasons the deals had been nixed, I couldn't give up.
 If everyone had said  I was a lousy writer, that I should stick to
writing slogans... I still probably wouldn't have listened.  But they
had wanted to buy it!

For a while I didn't do anything with Lip Service. 

Then in March of 1997, I left my now ex-husband.  I knew that
financially I had until the fall of 1999 to either become a paid author
(which was all I'd ever wanted to do) or I'd have to go back into
advertising full time. 

Some would say that would be incentive enough. I loved advertising
when I first got into it but it had sucked me dry - I did not want - no
I was loathe  - to ever do the 9 to 5 or 6 or7 advertising thing

At that point I got the  idea that maybe if I could sell 1200 or 1500
hundred copies of Lip Service and prove to the publishers that my work
could be marketed perhaps they'd buy my next novel and  I could stave
off the full time reentry to advertising hell.  

But I was  afraid of self-publishing  - it has such a negative

Independent film makers get applauded, so do indy musicians ... but
people only laugh at self-published writers.  Then I found a list of
small independent presses and joined them to learn about the process. I
told them about my book and several asked to read it. Right away one
press, run by a very well respected poet and professor out in
California, wanted to publish Lip Service. But when I talked to her
about her marketing capabilities and pr ideas, I started to realize I
knew more than she did because of my advertising background. 

I had to give it a try.
inkwell.vue.44 : M. J. Rose
permalink #17 of 76: Marcy Sheiner (mmarquest) Mon 16 Aug 99 14:16
Well, good for you. I had similar experiences with the second novel I
wrote (I've written 3, all unpublished to date) and it was such a
heartbreak to me I didn't write fiction for the next five yrs.I still
feel reluctant to write another novel because of all that work and the
heartbreak of it never seeing print.
You, on the other hand, reacted differently and it paid off. 

You have another book coming out. Anything else in the works?
inkwell.vue.44 : M. J. Rose
permalink #18 of 76: M. J. Rose (anewanais) Mon 16 Aug 99 16:48
The book I'm working on now should be out summer 2000 and then I have
three more in my head. At the same time I hope I can find some novels
to test market for other writers.  I'm curious - Marcy - and it might
lead to some interesting dialog for you to tell me why your work didn't
sell. Tell me about that second novel... maybe we can come up with a
marketing strategy for it.  
inkwell.vue.44 : M. J. Rose
permalink #19 of 76: Marcy Sheiner (mmarquest) Mon 16 Aug 99 18:47
Well, now I don't think it is such a good novel, though I still enjoy
it and chuckle over it myself. It was about the clash experienced by a
woman who shall remain nameless who was in love with  a pornographer at
the same time as she was an activist in the womens movement c. 1978.
The publishers all said the writing was wonderful but....various
reasons not to publish it. It was pretty funny, actually, but not
terribly well written.

Now is a good time to let our audience know that MJ will be on the
TODAY show tomorrow morning, that's August 17th, probably around 8:35
am. Tune in and come back with questions.

And MY next question to you is, how did you make it onto the TODAY
inkwell.vue.44 : M. J. Rose
permalink #20 of 76: M. J. Rose (anewanais) Tue 17 Aug 99 01:44
Its 4:40 am... I can't sleep cause as you mentioned I'm going on the
Today Show today... in four hours. First TV appearance ever. And
according to the producer at the Today Show, the first "first time
novelist who wasn't already famous becuase of celebrity in some other
field" to make it on the show in five years. Pocket Books' amazing
publicity dept set it up... but no publicity department can make magic
and Lip Service has one thing going for it that a lot of fiction
doesn't... it made literary history and so its in the news. The fact
that Lip Service is the first novel discovered online and chosen as a
featured alternate by the book clubs and then sold to Pocket Books has
made me something of a poster child for the concept of e-Publishing. 

The sale and discovery of my book really proves the power of the
Internet. Proves there is an e-Voloution going on wtih authors and
readers. Becuase of sites like's advantage program which
gives the independent publisher the visibility and distribution she
can't get anywhere else (certainly not in the non-cyber world) and
becuase readers are becoming reviewers, the precepts of publishing are

What's happened to my novel is the best thing to happen for aspiriing
novelists everywhere. The interet is to an author, what Schwabs used to
be to the actor.
inkwell.vue.44 : M. J. Rose
permalink #21 of 76: Gail Williams (gail) Tue 17 Aug 99 09:32
What fun.  How did you decide what to wear?  I know that's a bit
superficial, but TV brings out all the surfacce issues...
inkwell.vue.44 : M. J. Rose
permalink #22 of 76: Marcy Sheiner (mmarquest) Tue 17 Aug 99 14:04
MJ, you looked absolutely gorgeous and so composed. And sort of
humble, not beating your own drum so much but talking about the
Internet revolution as above. 

I know you are doing your own Internet publishing to test-market other
books. How will you decide what to post? Will it be one book at a time
or more? How will this work, in general?

I would like to add that you are not only a poster girl for
e-publishing, but for the way writers should help one another. Ed
Sanders, a writer of the beatnik era, gave me a reference to get into a
writers colony many years ago, and  told me all I had to do was
promise that for every favor a writer does for me, I should do two for
other writers. I've tried to live by that credo.
inkwell.vue.44 : M. J. Rose
permalink #23 of 76: M. J. Rose (anewanais) Tue 17 Aug 99 18:26
Why thanks for the compliments... if I was composed it was becuase it
actually was fun! Katie Couric came to the green room to meet me and
talk to me for five min before the show and she is just like she is on
screen, so friendly, so chatty. She was genuinely intrigued (I'd been
told neither she or Matt come up to meet you before hand unless they
are really interested in the story) 

 Anyway... it went by so fast I didn't remeber a single moment of it
and if I hadn't seen it later on tape wouldn't have the faintest idea
of what I'd said. But my amazon numbers are going crazy. At last check
I was number 8 on the whole damn list.

Actually I was horrified I mentioned my ex husband on tv - a friend
called and said every woman would love me for givng him such a major
fuck you on national tv - I didn't mean to do it but it was the true
answer to the question.

As to my company. I'm going to do test market books that should have
been published by the biggies if they were willing to buy books that
might only sell 5000 copies instead of their current cutoff of 25,000

How many will I do? As many as I can find. I think I might have found
the first... but have yet to talk to the author.

And about helping people... so many, many people helped me and were
kind to me - especially here on the well when I was trying to get the
self-pubbed version out there, that I believe what you do. Marcy, I owe
it to other writers. 
inkwell.vue.44 : M. J. Rose
permalink #24 of 76: Undo Influence (mnemonic) Tue 17 Aug 99 18:31

Hey, what did you say about your ex-husband?
inkwell.vue.44 : M. J. Rose
permalink #25 of 76: MJ Rose (anewanais) Tue 17 Aug 99 18:41
Katie asked me if the female character in my book was like me and I
said no, but that in writing the book I became like her... that in the
story she writes a book, gets strong and then leaves her husband, and
that after I finished writing Lip Service I left my husband. Anyone who
will or has read the book will get what a horrible thing that was to


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